PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte called for the construction of permanent evacuation centers as the Department of the Interior and Local Government noted the lack of such infrastructure to shelter vulnerable Filipinos in times of calamities and natural disasters.
“It is high time that government consider … na we build strong structures, stronger than a typhoon, para mapuntahan ng mga tao,” the President said during his Talk to the People Address.
Duterte also intends for said evacuation facilities to be complete with amenities, saying “Maybe small rooms with many comfort rooms where people can really stay for a while.”
Senator Go echoed the President’s call, saying that he is pursuing the construction of permanent evacuation centers through his proposed legislative measure filed in the Senate, recognizing that most evacuees stay in public schools which are not ideal alternatives for a disaster relief shelter.
“Kaisa po ako sa panawagan ng Pangulo na magkaroon ng permanent evacuation centers sa iba’t ibang parte ng bansa. Nakita naman po natin ang matinding pangangailangan natin sa mga istrukturang ito na magsisilbing panandaliang tahanan ng mga Pilipino sa tuwing may bagyo o anumang natural disasters,” Go explained.
“Huwag na nating antayin na may panibagong sakuna pang dumating. Umaksyon na tayo ngayon upang maprotektahan lalo ang buhay ng bawat Pilipino,” he added.
Go renewed his call for the passage of his proposed measure Senate Bill No. 1228 which provides for the establishment of an evacuation center in every city, municipality and province throughout the country.
While he noted that the Department of Public Works and Highways has exerted efforts to build evacuation centers in every region, he said that these need to be augmented and enhanced to accommodate the needs and protect the lives of all evacuees during calamities.
Go added that these evacuation centers to be established must be conducive for concerned agencies involved in disaster response to be able to provide immediate assistance to the evacuees. Health and safety protocols must also be in place to prevent the spread of diseases especially with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“Dapat may komportableng higaan ang mga bata, hindi magkakasakit, may comfort room sila at may maayos na sanitation. Hindi lang dapat ito lugar na pansamantalang masisilungan, ito dapat ay lugar na mapoprotektahan sila, maaalagaan sila, at matutulungan silang makabangon muli,” he said.
The bill also provides for the minimum requirements for every evacuation center, such as its location, amenities and accessibility, operation and management, among others. As for its appropriation, the construction and maintenance of evacuation centers under the measure will be sourced from a portion of the general appropriations for the DPWH.
As for victims currently staying in evacuation centers, he reminded them and local officials to strictly observe and implement health protocols to avoid an increase in COVID-19 cases. He added that health safety officers should be deployed in evacuation sites to ensure that the medical needs of evacuees are provided and their safety is prioritized.
“Kinausap ko din po si Health Secretary Francisco Duque nung pumunta kami sa Catanduanes dahil napansin ko po sa lahat ng ating evacuation centers, nagkakadikit ‘yung mga Pilipino. Hindi na po nasusunod ‘yung mga health protocols at social distancing. Kaya dapat merong health safety officer ang bawat evacuation center along with the local government units. Dapat maayos ‘yung coordination,” Go explained.
Moreover, Go said that he is confident that the country will be able to overcome these challenges and “build back better”.
“More than simply rebuilding, we should build back better. Kasi kung ibabalik lang natin ang nakagawian, mauulit rin lang ang problema kapag may panibagong kalamidad na darating,” he added.###